Mom Whose Autistic Children Got Better Shares More of Her Story With Us

March 8, 2011
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Justice signLast week we told you about Meleah Corner, who won a major court case in NC allowing her children to continue to be treated with HBOT. This week we had the opportunity to interview her and hear her story in greater detail. You won’t believe what she had to go through.

Meleah Corner has four sons, ages 9, 7, 5, and 3. The three older boys have autism spectrum disorder. The eldest has a milder form of autism, with social awareness difficulties and emotional disregulation. The seven-year-old’s case is the most severe with more typical autism symptoms—difficulty with speech and eye contact, for example—though tremendous progress has been made since his initial diagnosis because of various interventions. The third son’s autism is somewhere in between the two.

Meleah is legally blind, able only to distinguish between light and dark. Her parents were strong advocates for her as she was growing up, insisting that she attend classes with fully sighted children instead of being placed in a Special Ed class. They insisted that the state make any necessary accompromodations, according to the law. Undoubtedly their example informed Meleah’s advocacy for her sons.

The family learned about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) soon after the first son was diagnosed. They figured, “It certainly won’t hurt, and might help,” so she began to search for a doctor who could prescribe HBOT therapy for him—and for a location to get him treated. HBOT is expensive.

She soon learned of a federal law that says if a child has Medicaid, the state is obligated to treat him if a doctor prescribes it. Meleah found a neurologist, Dr. Jean-Ronel Corbier, who was very supportive of HBOT, which she says is extremely unusual among neurologists. He gave her a prescription, and also ordered that SPECT imaging be performed. SPECT is an acronym for Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography. It’s a sophisticated nuclear medicine study that looks directly at cerebral blood flow and indirectly at brain activity. The neurologist wanted to have a visual map of any blood flow deficiencies and their location. The imaging and the HBOT were performed without controversy at a hospital.

But when she submitted the bills to North Carolina Medicaid, the coverage was rejected. The neurologist sent a request for the federal Medicaid program to cover it, which is standard procedure if it’s not covered by the state. The two older boys were invited to go to a facility mostly pro bono, though the parents had to pay for the younger son’s treatment themselves. They then filed an appeal to ask that the state be required to reimburse for the costs that they didn’t cover up front.

This first appeal, filed in early 2009, was filed with the NC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Meleah couldn’t get an attorney to represent them, so she represented herself—and she came well-prepared. Dr. Paul G. Harch kindly testified for her even though she had never met him before, discussing the safety and efficacy of HBOT for autistic patients, and the evidence seemed incontrovertible. But in June 2009 the administrative judge ruled in favor of the state. Meleah says, “The findings of fact and of law that the judge listed in her ruling were very ambiguous, and didn’t address several of the issues we were in court for.” It was especially puzzling since the state had been woefully unprepared, and put on no case whatsoever, other than to say HBOT is not a covered therapy for autism—a point that was irrelevant, since the law requires Medicaid to cover whatever a doctor prescribes.

Meleah was able to find a legal aid organization to take the case pro bono, and an appeal was filed in NC superior court. The case was heard in September 2009. The same people testified, and the same evidence was presented, but this judge found in her favor and ruled that Medicaid had to pay all the fees for the HBOT treatment.

Dr. Corbier then did a follow-up SPECT to see if the HBOT had produced any functional, clinical progress. The scans clearly showed that the boys had needed it, and that HBOT had made a dramatic improvement in cerebral blood flow—with specific, measurable improvement in the way their autism presented itself.

The neurologist then asked Medicaid to cover another set of 40 treatments. The state promptly denied it. So in May 2010 everyone found themselves back in the OAH, before the same judge who heard the earlier case.

Dr. Harch once again testified for her, but this time, the state was in attack mode. The Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society, or UHMS, is an organization of hyperbaric medicine professionals, but they have a limited list of “approved” treatments for HBOT, and autism isn’t one of them. The state’s lawyer leveled accusations at Dr. Harch, making it look as if he had done something unethical because he was no longer a member of UHMS; and a doctor from UHMS said there was “no proof” that HBOT helps autism and that such claims are “crazy.” A well-known psychiatrist who is much-published in the autism field and is the head of autism research at the University of North Carolina testified that he had “never heard of HBOT being prescribed for autism.” He even testified that decreased profusion (blood flow in the brain) has nothing to do with autism—even though he himself had published a study ten years earlier documenting the fact that autistic individuals across the board have decreased perfusion! Never mind the fact that it is not normal for a human being to have decreased blood flow to the brain.

Perhaps because the state put on such an aggressive case—with experts who contradicted their own testimony—this time the administrative judge ruled that Meleah was correct, and Medicaid was obligated to cover the treatments.

After OAH issues its ruling, the state has thirty days in which to decide whether they agree or disagree with ruling. Not surprisingly, the state disagreed with the judge, so in December 2010, Meleah had to file in Superior Court once again. The same testimony was given from the same individuals, and in January 2011 the court upheld the decision. Medicaid has to pay up, every penny. The state will not be appealing the decision further, and will cover HBOT for all three of the children.

We asked Meleah if she had anything else she’d like to tell our readers. She paused, then said, “Yes. I think doctors and physicians need to be supportive of their patients even if it means going to court with them—we could not have won if we didn’t have the testimony of Dr. Harch and Dr. Corbier, or if we’d had someone who wanted to charge an outrageous fee to testify. A lot of doctors just don’t want to get involved. Be bold! This is an efficacious treatment! Things don’t change if doctors aren’t willing to stick their neck out there. The same thing goes for families: nothing will change unless the parents of young patients aren’t willing to stand up there and fight for change.”

We couldn’t agree more, Meleah. Congratulations to you and your family for such a courageous and well-fought battle!

Because the technology is not under patent, no one company has the incentive to spend the money for extensive scientific research. ANH-USA is working on a strategy to get broader FDA approval of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and we’ll keep you posted as things develop.

22 Responses to “Mom Whose Autistic Children Got Better Shares More of Her Story With Us”

  1. D. J. Sadler says:

    No moderation. I tell it like is, just llke you did, like it or not. Moderation is for wimps. I’m not one!! I applaud the actions of Melia and those who have the moxie to stand up for what’s right and fight a good battle for a just cause.

    They are the Real Americans. I’m one too. NO APPOLOGIES! I didn’t say anything that wasn’t either said or alluded to in the text. You gonna moderate them too? Not if yor are also the Real Americans! If reality offends you, you’re in the wrong business!

    D. J. Sadler

       0 likes

    • Louise Esther says:

      There are 45 million chemical sensitives in this country, and when we suffer from the bouts of internal inflammation that supposedly “safe” concentrations of chemicals inflict on us some of us hear that HBOT might help us…but insurance doctors don’t prescribe it for us and they’re the only kind of doctor that most of us are able to pay for.

      We stay sick.

      The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation knows why we stay sick.

      They have the facts and the figures.

      Please check them out.

      Thank you.

         0 likes

  2. D. J. Sadler says:

    Same old big med-business greed story. If someone isn’t going to make a pile of money on it, It just ain’t gonna happen! Thank goodness they took a grand shot in the shorts over this one. Those who get paid great sums to “Guard the fund!” had to sit down and shut up. BRAVO!

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  3. I should also mention that Gary Null sells a product that washes clothes without soap. I have been using it for a year and it so far excels any other products for washing clothing out there. I promise you that if an autistic child gets cleaner, less perfumed indoor air, he or she will definitely become more comfortable.

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  4. To those looking for a connection between vaccination and autism, see Gary Null.com and his many articles and films on the subject. He also has articles on Hyperbaric Oxygen. His daily radio shows are all archived PRN.com. and they are free to listen to. Many children can be made much better by many of the therapies he uses including juicing, HBOT, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, avoiding certain foods that cause inflammation, etc. And of course it is caused by vaccination. You have only to learn how they make the vaccines to realize that they know it causes autism too, and they don’t care. It would hurt their bottom line, and they just don’t care. I would suggest not using any products that are derived from oil — yes, petroleum. This includes all scented products for personal grooming and washing of clothes. They are all made out of petroleum and by using them where you are breathing they get into your body through your lungs and skin, and all the poisons from the petroleum cause many health problems. They exacerbate autism symptoms. I strongly suggest that the “Professional Doctors” that demand such respect for their wisdom are as narrow minded a bunch as you are ever going to find on God’s Green Earth, and it is a crying shame that don’t learn a thing or two.

    Do I sound like it have an opinion. That’s right!

       0 likes

  5. David Freels says:

    A Yahoo group (MedicaidforHBOT.com) was formed a number of years ago to help facilitate parent-driven requests for Federally-mandated coverage of HBOT under the Medicaid law for children, known as EPSDT, an acronym for Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment services. Most states ignore the Treatment requirement. For example, in Georgia the EPSDT program is known as HealthCheck; even though there’s no Treatment involved in a health check.

    So far MedicaidforHBOT parents have forced Medicaid coverage of off-label HBOT in over a dozen states. Meleah is the first parent of autistic children to accomplish this, though she’s now done it twice.

    Much of the controversy surrounding HBOT is perpetuated by intentional policy of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS.org) to prevent access to HBOT for brain-injury. This is a 40+ year policy–despite the evidence. See http://www.oxyhealth.com/images/noncovered.pdf More scientific evidence exists for the use of HBOT for brain-injury than all the UHMS-approved indications combined.

    The second leg of the controversy is due to the lack of education on HBOT in any medical school. There’s nothing magic about HBOT. It’s just breathing oxygen. Under pressure. But it freaks out 99% of physicians because they’re not educated on the subject, and because brain-injury is the most litigated of all medical malpractice cases, physicians–especially neurologists–except Corbier–won’t prescribe it and will actually fight against HBOT, quite possibly because if HBOT works then Neurology itself could be corporately guilty of medical malpractice.

    What this also means is that Meleah Corner’s victory was not only a victory over NC Medicaid but also a victory over Medicine itself and the self-serving, institutional barriers created by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and the American Academy of Neurology.

    This level of victory is exactly why the EPSDT statute was created.

    David Freels
    MedicaidforHBOT.com

       0 likes

  6. Adriana Lewis says:

    It is only by taking a stand and persisting that justice occurs.

       0 likes

  7. Barbie says:

    Great article. I have neighbors whose 2 children are autistic and it confounds me that this article would probably never be seen by them. It is a noble cause you serve.

    I believe the correct term is “perfusion”, not “profusion”. To perfuse means to force fluid through an organ, as with blood through the brain. The root word profuse, as in profusion, would not apply here. I am a CV perfusionist by trade and a SCUBA diver in my liesure.

       0 likes

  8. Patricia R. King says:

    I number among my extended family at least two nephews who are autistic. One has Asperger’s Syndrome. He graduated from high school and is now working in a work program provided by a nearby hospital. The second nephew is profoundly afflicted. He is unable to speak even after years of therapeutic programs although he is apparently able to read. As he enters puberty, his inability to speak exacerbates the problems of adolescence and puts his parents under even greater stress than they have been enduring since he was diagnosed in early childhood.

    As the incidence of autism in children increases, it is ever more important for medical researchers and the medical profession to focus both on causes and treatment.

       0 likes

  9. John says:

    From all accounts we are ,as tax payers, paying for a system of voluntary suppression? The Gov’t seems to be a “shock absorber” to prevent the public getting too ambitious in its needs and necessaties. The law is a law of convenience and designed to, by cost, unavailable to the taxpayer, who should have access without cost? Law & Order, or Order a Law? Think about it!
    Might I suggest that the alternate medicine fraternity, collectively, become members of all UN-corupted trade / workers unions to protect the public? A good GENERAL trade /general union would take a peekinto Wikileaks expoures and protect him from the Evil that is being Ordered by Law as a Law toOrder? Ref to your Thomas Baines.

       0 likes

  10. Gail S. says:

    Dr. Whitaker of the Whitaker Wellness Institute in California is a proponent of HBOT for numerous situations, including diabetic neuropathy. HBOT is an underused non-invasive therapy that could benefit numerous people. Unfortunately, as said in the article, no one company has the incentive to spend any money on research because it in not under patent. Too bad it always comes down to helping people only if it makes them lots of money. Cheers for this family that they won the ability to have their children treated. Hopefully, they will be documenting their improvements. Many would have given up under the duress of the court battles.

       0 likes

  11. Kelly Thompson says:

    Thank you for the HBOT article, I am a mental health advocate and have suffered from depression, nerve damage and head injury myself. I am interested in this federal law and whether or not it would also apply to neurofeedback? There are a couple of different doctors that I have used and watched the progress of other patients with autism, drug addiction, major depression, bipolar and it is absolutely amazing. Last November I saw an autistic child after her 3rd treatment, her seizures we’re almost gone and the relief was evident, although she couldn’t talk, you could see and feel her enjoyment.

    Your response is greatly appreciated.
    Blessings to you for all the work you do.
    Kelly Thompson

       1 likes

  12. J.J. says:

    Thank you for sharing this, and thanks to these fine individuals who had the courage and tenacity to do the right thing. I hope this word gets out and opens new doors of hope for many, so that our lives are not sold for a price any longer.

       0 likes

  13. anne winn says:

    Are their any studies relating to early on set dimentia and decreased blood flow to the brain? If so would HBOT therapy be worth a try?

       0 likes

  14. Judy says:

    Amazing – just because something (Like HBOT) has never been heard of as a treatment, doesn’t mean it might not be effective. Such a narrow minded psychiatrist… Well done, Meleah!

       0 likes

  15. John Jones says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard of HBOT as a healing aid for autism, but not the first time I’ve heard that autism is a physical, not psychological disorder. I sincerely hope that this case can be the beginning of traditional medicine being forced into paying for treatments that really work.
    I also hope that we’ll wake up real soon and accept the incredibly transparent cause of autism, so more children and families don’t have to face these difficulties.
    Congratulations Meleah . . . you’re an inspiration to us all.

    Hugs,
    John

       0 likes

  16. Bill says:

    Will this treatment help a “pre-autistic” child who is now 23 years old? She functions at about a 5 year-old level. Her speech and vocabulary are improving and her memory is outstanding. I would love to find some way to help her progress more than she has. Thank you.

       0 likes

  17. Patricia Corder says:

    Thank you for the efforts the ANH-USA is making to promote HBOT for the treatment of various conditions.

       0 likes

  18. Eric Brody says:

    I’m curious as if you could find out if Meleah herself or her kids were vaccinated. I’ve been researching many of theese stories and trying to see if there is some link between autism or vaccination.

    Thanks!
    Eric

       1 likes

    • lISA says:

      rEGARDING THE STUDIES OF autism AND INNOCULATIONS–I have a theory– and just reading this story reinforces it: perhaps it is not just the innoculations neccessary to cause autism- I think a mitigating factor is CHEMTRAILS— look into them (AIRCRAP.ORG) autism has increased better than 600% in less than 20 years, diagnostically almost impossible, and CHEMTRAIL spraying started heavily around 1995/96– and is proven to have among other things aluminum, barrium, phospherous,
      aluminum has been implicated in alzheimers, why not also autism??? People need to KNOW and be made aware- those ‘TRAILS’ in the sky ARE NOT HARMLESS. They are the percursor to many diseases.

         1 likes

      • MArk edgette says:

        I am a veteran that sufferd a tbi I had to spend my own money to treat my injury I purchased a home hyperbaric chamber from oxy health all my tbi symptoms have disapeard no thanks to the va nazi bastards only care about big pharma not veterans I have turned my back on va medicine “forever! Vets are being used for medical experiments and nothing will be done about the abuse done to vets by the va I do not even know if america cares.

           1 likes

    • Joanne Antonetti says:

      YES there IS !!! Vaccines are toxic. VERY VERY TOXIC.

      Do your research. Don’t listen to the pharmaceutically trained and controlled mainstream medical community. They may mean well but they have no clue.

         1 likes

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